Tue, Sep 30, 2014 - Page 15 News List

World Business Quick Take



Air France strikes end

Air France’s main pilots’ union on Sunday ended the longest strike in the carrier’s history, to allow “calmer” talks to go ahead over the contentious issue of the airline’s low-cost subsidiary, Transavia. The strike has cost Air France more than 200 million euros (US$250 million) over the past two weeks. Air France sees Transavia’s development as vital in the struggle to retain market share in the cutthroat medium-haul sector, which is steadily being overrun by no-frills airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair. The French flag carrier said it expected close to 60 percent of its flights to take off yesterday and it hopes to return to normal over the next two to three days after “mandatory checks” of grounded planes.


New Zealand dollar falls

The New Zealand dollar sank yesterday after the central bank disclosed it conducted its biggest sell-off of the currency in seven years to lower an exchange rate that is squeezing exporters. Data released by the Reserve Bank showed it sold NZ$521 million (US$410 million) last month. That came after bank Governor Graeme Wheeler said the currency was too strong. The disclosure pushed the currency down nearly 2 percent against the US dollar, to its lowest level in more than a year, before it recovered slightly to trade at US$0.78. The currency has dropped 12 percent since July, when the central bank announced it was suspending its program of interest rate hikes.


New Xbox released in China

US technology giant Microsoft Inc yesterday launched its Xbox One game console in China, the first foreign company to enter the potentially massive market after the government lifted a 14-year ban. The launch, which was delayed a week for reasons Microsoft did not reveal, comes as the US company faces a government investigation for alleged “monopoly actions” regarding other products like its flagship Windows operating system, used on the majority of computers in China. In January, China formally authorized the domestic sale of game consoles made in its first free-trade zone in Shanghai, ending a ban in 2000 originally instituted due to worries over content. The zone was established exactly a year ago yesterday. At a branch of Chinese electronics chain store Suning (蘇寧電器) in downtown Shanghai, a salesman said the outlet sold more than 30 limited-edition consoles priced at 4,299 yuan (US$700) after staying open past midnight. A more basic package retails for 3,699 yuan.


Spending up in S Korea

South Korea’s current account surplus narrowed to US$7.27 billion last month due to heavy royalty payments and overseas travel spending during the summer holiday season, state data showed yesterday. The preliminary figure compared with a surplus US$7.84 billion in July, according to South Korea’s central bank. The current account has been in the black for 30 months in a row. Exports last month amounted to US$46.23 billion, down from US$48.22 billion in July, while imports declined to US$42.86 billion from US$45.89 billion. The services account, which includes spending on overseas trips, showed a deficit of US$730 million compared with US$10 million in July. The deficit in the travel sector also expanded to US$770 million from US$550 million a month earlier, while the shortfall in royalty payments — largely in the technological sector — grew to US$380 million from US$20 million.

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